The Corner

Hazleton, Pa.

A federal judge has ruled in favor of the ACLU against Hazleton, Pa., saying that the city’s immigration-control ordinances are “unconstitutional,” whatever that’s supposed to mean this week. My research director was called as a witness by attorneys for the city, and they said at the time that they fully expected to lose the first round and were going to appeal. The obvious point is that the feds need to get their act together and start enforcing the immigration laws, so cities like Hazleton (and the scores which have followed its lead) don’t have to do the job themselves. But more immediately, the administration can take the lead in helping local jurisdictions in two ways: first, formally publish the 2002 Justice Department legal opinion prepared for John Ashcroft (available in redacted form here) that explains how states and localities have always had the inherent constitutional authority to make arrests for civil violations of federal immigration law. And second, Homeland Security needs to set up an office of state and local liaison, which would spell out what those governments can and cannot do with regard to immigration laws — this would help those jurisdictions, like Hazleton, that want to reinforce federal law, and begin to rein in those that are subverting it by, for instance, passing illegal “sanctuary” measures prohibiting local government cooperation with immigration authorities.

Mark Krikorian — Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

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